ODI lands grant to establish bridge and intervention programs for vulnerable youth in Dominican Republic

ODI lands grant to establish bridge and intervention programs for vulnerable youth in Dominican Republic

Higher education leaders from multiple institutions in the Dominican Republic and United States will lead a new effort to establish bridge and intervention programs for vulnerable and marginalized youth in the Dominican Republic, under a five-year, $4.5 million United States Agency for International Development (USAID) grant recently announced.

The Ohio State University's Office of Diversity and Inclusion is the lead partner of the funded project that focuses on strengthening the performance of a handful of higher education institutions on the island nation by improving their ability to support educationally vulnerable youth.

“ODI has immense expertise and experiences working with educationally vulnerable populations. Our ODI team and I will share our expertise and offer many educational success models to help our Dominican Republic colleagues improve education and career outcomes for vulnerable youth in their country,” said Dr. James L. Moore III, vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer. “This partnership will impact thousands of young people in the Dominican Republic while allowing us to see how our evidence-based models translate in a new culture of education at various junctures of learning.” Moore said ODI's share of the USAID grant amounts to approximately $380,000 over the next five years with the rest going to partner institutions in the Dominican Republic and another partner institution of higher learning in New York City.

About one in five younger generation Dominicans is not engaged actively in work or studies, and sixty percent of that marginalized group are young women. The end goal of the programs would be to get more vulnerable youth to complete school; take up vocational, and tertiary education opportunities; and find jobs in the workplace.

Incorporating aspects of many other ODI programs, participating ODI staff would draw heavily upon the pre-collegiate and collegiate experiences and practices honed in the Young Scholars Program (YSP) to help their Dominican counterparts set up bridge programs that help youth transition from secondary school to higher education, according to the grant. Started over 30 years ago, YSP is a college access and retention program – pioneered by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion – that has increased diversity while successfully allowing thousands of first-generation, urban college students of modest means to complete an Ohio State education.

Critical aspects of YSP that will be replicated in the Dominican Republic include the summer bridge program experience, success coaching, mid-semester report cards, and tutoring and supplemental instruction. “We just want to show our partners in the Dominican Republic what has worked for us over the years and help them figure out how to best implement evidence-based practices within their current educational system,” Moore said.

Ties between ODI and the Dominican Republic have strengthened in recent years with the addition of an education abroad experience in the island nation for Buckeyes. Approximately 20 ODI scholars, along with staff chaperones, made the inaugural education abroad trip in Winter 2019.